As a measure to curb malpractice in the issuance of TV ratings, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that ratings agencies will now provide the viewership data they collect to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), which will display the data on its website and use it to assign ratings independently.
Under Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar's stewardship, a three-member bench of the SC issued the order in response to a petition filed by Bol TV over alleged the non-issuance of ratings to it.
The order has been issued with the aim to discourage manipulation of viewership data by agencies to favour powerful players, who have in the past been accused of using artificially inflated ratings to negotiate higher advertisement rates.
In the previous hearing, the court had asked Pemra to make its recommendations in the matter after taking all stakeholders into confidence.
After the regulatory body made its recommendations today, the court said that rating agencies will have to provide their data on a daily basis to Pemra, which will then publish that data on its website.
On the basis of those Pemra-published ratings, the apex court stated, companies will be free to hand out advertisements.
The court instructed Pemra to register the ratings agencies within three days and also explain to them the registration process.
Furthermore, the court made it clear that neither will Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) have anything to do with the ratings nor any of its members will be a part of Pemra's board of directors.
The court also permitted Medialogic Pakistan to submit its ratings to Pemra, while retracting a contempt-of-court notice against the company's owner. The court also withdrew an order to have the company's offices sealed.
At this, Bol TV counsel Shahab Sarki objected to the court's order, warning that allowing Medialogic to submit ratings to Pemra could "lead to the formation of a cartel once again".
However, the court said that the matter had already been settled by Pemra and it would not intervene in it.